Issues with pay 



Who can help me if I have a dispute with my employer about my pay?
 
If you belong to a trade union, it’s a good idea to contact your union representative for information and support.

Otherwise, start by trying to discuss the issues with your employer. If you are uncomfortable with speaking with them directly you can try writing them a letter. There are letter templates on the Community Law website which you can use to help you write to your employer about a pay issue.

If you and your employer cannot resolve the issue, you can contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on 0800 20 90 20 for information and advice. If appropriate, they may refer your case to a labour inspector for investigation.

Your next step may be to try mediation, or apply to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) to claim the pay owed to you. The ERA may refer you and your employer to mediation if you haven’t already tried this. You can read more about resolving employment disputes.

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My workplace was closed due to earthquake damage, so I couldn’t do my job. Am I entitled to be paid for those days?

There is no legal requirement for your employer to pay you for days that you could not work because the workplace is closed, unless this is provided for in your employment agreement.

If your employer will not pay you for those days you could arrange to take paid leave for those days so that at least you will be receiving pay.

More information about this is on the Employment website.

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My employer said that I didn't get paid for my first two days because it was a training period. Is this legal?

It is not illegal for your employer to do this if you have both agreed to it (e.g. in your employment agreement). However, if there was no mutual agreement about this then your employer must pay you for all of the hours you worked, at the pay rate stated in your employment agreement.

If you and your employer can’t agree on whether you are entitled to be paid for those first two days of your employment, contact your union representative (if you belong to a union) or call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (0800 20 90 20) for information about your rights and what you can do to resolve the issue.

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My employer didn't pay me for a shift I worked, because I forgot to sign in that day. What can I do?

Employees can be required to complete a timesheet if this is the workplace policy or if it is in their employment agreement, but if you do not complete your timesheet, your employer does not have the right to withhold your pay unless this is clearly stated in your employment agreement

It’s possible that your employer just needs to have proof that you were at work. Present to your employer any proof you have that you worked that shift, for example a statement from your colleagues, surveillance camera footage, or statements from any external clients you were in contact with during your shift.

If you and your employer are unable to agree over this, you can contact your union representative (if you belong to a union) or call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (0800 20 90 20) for information about your rights and what you can do to resolve the issue.

More about your employer’s responsibilities regarding keeping accurate records of hours worked and wages paid, is on the Employment website.

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My employer and I disagree about whether I’m supposed to be paid a higher hourly rate when I work outside of my usual hours. What are my rights?

You should be compensated for any extra time that you work, either by being paid for that time or by receiving paid time off in lieu.

However there is no legal requirement for an employer to pay an overtime rate (ie a higher hourly rate than is paid for work done during the normal hours of work). Your entitlement to an overtime rate will depend on whether you and your employer had agreed on this beforehand. This should be in your employment agreement.

If it’s not clear in the employment agreement how you should be paid when you work overtime, or you and your employer cannot agree on the issue, you can contact your union representative (if you belong to a union) or call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (0800 20 90 20) for information about what you can do to resolve the issue.

If you are still unable to reach an agreement with the employer you might consider going through the disputes resolution process. More information about this is on our Resolving employment disputes page.

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If my employer requires me to attend regular staff meetings before my shift starts, should I be paid for attending?

You should be compensated for the time you spend working, including when you work outside of the hours specified in your employment agreement. This can be either by being paid for that time or through paid time off in lieu (the latter is more common for employees on salaries).

When you work extra time without being compensating for it, your hourly rate is effectively reduced. If you are already on a low wage you could effectively be on less than the minimum wage.

Try approaching your employer about it. If this doesn’t work, or if you are not comfortable with talking to your employer, you can contact your union representative for help and advice. You can also call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on 0800 20 90 20. They can give you information and advice, and can refer your case to a labour inspector.

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Can my employer make deductions from my pay without my permission?

Deductions can be made without your permission in the following situations:

  • if your employment agreement allows for the deductions to be made (but your employer must consult with you before they make the deduction);
  • if you have given written consent, and the deduction is both reasonable and for a lawful purpose;
  • for child support payments, court fines or other deductions required by law; or 
  • in certain circumstances where you were overpaid (see the following question).

If you believe the deductions from your pay were made unlawfully you can ask your employer to reimburse you. The Community Law website has a letter template you can use if you want to do this in writing.

More information about pay deductions is on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Employment website.

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My employer tells me he accidentally overpaid me during the last six months. Do I have to pay the money back?

Some employment agreements have a clause that covers the repayment of accidental overpayments. If this is not the case with your employment agreement, read on.

If the overpayment occurred due to an error made by your employer, they have to get your written permission if they want to recover the excess through deductions from your pay. Generally your employer has to give you notice that they intend to recover the overpayment no later than the pay day following the overpayment (for example if you were overpaid on your last pay day, your employer needs to give you notice on or before the next pay day). You employer will have to recover the overpayment within two months after they gave you notice about it. 

You can cancel your permission (even if your employment agreement allows the employer to recover money that has been overpaid), but you have to do this as soon as possible after receiving the employer’s notice.

However, if six months passed before you became aware of the error and you received the money in good faith and spent it, then you may not have to pay it back. 

If you are in dispute about the matter, either party can go through the employment disputes process to resolve it.

Note that your employer can make you pay back an overpayment if wages were paid to you while you were absent without permission. They may also be able to make a partial deduction if you are on strike or locked out. In this case they have to give you notice (usually before the next pay day after the overpayment was made) and the money must be repaid within two months of your being notified.

More information about overpayment and deductions is on the Employment website.

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Is it a requirement for an employer to provide payslips to employees?

An employer is not legally required to provide payslips to you unless it is specified in your employment agreement. They are however required to keep records about your hours of work, the type of work you do, your pay rate and your employment agreement – and you have the right to get a copy of your pay and work-time records if you request it.

More information about payslips and record keeping is on the Employment website.

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I quit my job and my boss won’t pay me for the hours I worked in my last week. What can I do?

Your employer might only be entitled to withhold your pay if:

  • you did not give adequate notice according to your employment agreement and
  • the employment agreement contains a clause allowing the employer to withhold or make penalty deductions from your final pay if you do not give the required notice.

The amount of wages deducted by the employer in this situation must be in proportion to the loss caused by your not giving notice (otherwise you might be able to make a claim to recover some of the forfeited pay.
      
If the above does not describe your situation, then your employer must pay you to the end of the notice period (or to your last day of work, if you did not give notice). This also applies if they asked you to stop coming to work before the period of notice ends. 

When you have calculated what you are owed, discuss this with your employer. If this does not resolve the situation, you may be able to make a claim for wages owing to you.

More information is on the Employment website.

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My employer wants to terminate my employment, but they want me to leave right away. Am I entitled to be paid for the notice period?

If you were summarily dismissed for serious misconduct your employer can require you to leave without giving you any notice or payment instead of notice.

If you were dismissed for any other reason your employer must give you notice or give you payment instead of notice.

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The business I worked for has closed down and I am still owed three weeks’ pay. What can I do to get it?

You will need to contact the receiver or liquidator appointed to manage the affairs of the business and make sure your claim for outstanding wages (and any outstanding holiday pay) is registered. If you are not sure who the receiver or liquidator is, you can contact the Companies Office register of New Zealand companies. 

If your claim is accepted, you’ll be paid out of what’s left after the costs of the liquidation are paid and certain payments are made to Inland Revenue. The Insolvency and Trustee website has more information about the how employees are affected when the business they work for is bankrupt or in liquidation.

You can read about other ways to recover money owed to you on our Recovery of debts page.